With a tired sigh I dropped my chemistry textbook atop all my other ones. I’m already done with studying I still have another hour in front of me.
Hey look! I have a fifteen minute break after chem class, what do I do? I study.
Hey look! I have a spare after my chem class, what am I going to do? Study.
I leaned on the table, far away from the pile of books and stared glumly into space.
When I got my schedule for this year and saw that I actually had a spare, I was pretty happy. A whole hour of chilling out! Taking it cool, recovering from all those advanced classes. When my dad saw my schedule his first natural reaction was: More study time!
I pretty much hated – and still do – studying. So like any good high school student, I used my spare time by watching t.v., playing on the computers in the library or going to the arcade down the street.
But then my first test came in, and dad somehow learned I wasn’t the top in my class. Even if I got over 90%, that apparently wasn’t good enough for a Pallen. And then dad proceeded to somehow find out that I wasn’t using every minute of every free time I had studying and that was somehow a goddamn crime.
I can’t study at home either because half the time the house is plagued by dad’s various ‘friends’. I have to act like the most well-behaved guy they’ve ever seen without looking like some sort of servant. I have to be polite, have manners, make nice conversation, etc. Isolating myself in my room to study is definitely not an option.
And on top of that, my dad practically records every comment his ‘friends’ make. One of them commented on my loose baggy clothes I used to wear during my first year of high school. He commented in a rather… negative way. I never saw those clothes again and dad was determined to be the one who bought my clothes. Thanks to mom I managed to keep that small privilege.
I curled my hand into a fist as I felt the all too familiar mixture of anger and self-pity. Anger at my dad for not letting me be, and anger at me for feeling bad for myself even though I have it easy compared to others. There’s really no reason for me to even think I have it hard. My parents are rich as hell and all my dad is doing is trying to make sure I live up to his standards.
And I do want to. I want to be the successful man that my father is, but I can’t help hoping there was another way – an easier one to fill my dad’s shoes.
I shook myself back to reality. It’s useless to think about these things.
Break’s over and that pile of homework is unfortunately not going to disappear by itself.
“You!” A hate-filled voice suddenly came from my left. I spun around in surprise.
“You’re that bully who beat that guy up.” A girl said, looking like she was ready to spit in my face.
Wow. This is a first.
It’s ironic that this would happen after Oliver, Teo and I have stopped bugging Xavier.
I pushed myself off the sofa.
“Don’t play innocent! I saw it happen.” The girl snapped with stubborn written all over her face.
“It’s a bit late for accusations.” I shot back.
“I also know you’ve been threatening Xavier so he won’t tell the principal.” She said.
“What!?” I exclaimed. This was news to me!
“I don’t know how or with what, but believe me I will find out. You have no right to bully others.”
Jeez what the hell? Who is she anyway? And what is it these days? Years of no complaining and then it seems like everyone, including Xavier, is voicing their unhappiness on his behalf.
I’ve left him alone, so why is she suddenly in my face yelling nonsense?
With an additional angry glare, the girl left the room just as the door opened and someone else came in.
“Sorry.” She said after bumping into the guy. Said guy just happened to be Teo.
“No problem.” Teo said a bit surprised.
“Who was that?” Teo asked as he watched her leave. The look he had on his face right there…Oliver and him both see something I can’t when they look at girls.
Something I’m supposed to see.
I looked at my drawing, and then compared it to the wonderfully done painting on the wall. The art teacher had done it one day to show us some brush stroke techniques. Yet it only demonstrated my lack of talent in painting.
I’ll probably never be that good.
The teacher’s not the only with gifts, practically all of the other students in my class can paint way better than me!
My lack of talent shouldn’t really matter though. It’s not like this has any relation to my future career.
But still, it’s not particularly fun to be the worst in your class.
Yeah, even Xavier has more talent than I do.
Speaking of, there’s a specific reason to why I purposefully decided to work beside him today.
I realized Oliver’s been doing all the talking and apologizing and stuff, even if he doesn’t entirely mean it (though that last year speech thing he gave almost had me convinced), and all I’ve been doing is existing.
I know I’m sorry as well, and I regret bullying Xavier for so many years and I kind of need to say it.
Since this is my only class with him, it’s the only chance I’ll have to apologize without Oliver cutting in every second.
“Um…Xavier?” I said to catch his attention.
Xavier stopped painting, glanced at me with his usual guarded expression, and then went back to painting. “Yeah?”
It looks like he’s enduring our presence (though I guess I can’t blame him) every time Oliver and I join them. But for some reason Oliver continues to push at being friends with those two. I’m thinking maybe it’s not all to get closer to Erin. The fact that Edmund can’t really hang out anymore with his nose deep in his books might be part of it. Oliver’s probably feeling lonely. I scoffed internally at that.
“Well, I just wanted to apologize as well.” I said, not too sure what words to use.
Xavier scoffed. “You guys and all your apologizing out of the blue. It really feels like something’s up.” He said.
I smiled a little. “I guess it might look like that. I’ll be truthful with you, I never saw anything wrong with what we were doing until Edmund…punched you.”
“Thanks for not saying beat up.” He muttered.
“Yeah well, we realize now how dumb and…inconsiderate our actions were.” I continued. It was weird, I hadn’t expected to have such a hard time finding the right words.
“Okay. Thanks for the apology.” Xavier said, and I felt a little lighter afterwards. I turned back to my painting.
It had really surprised me and Oliver when Edmund got angry to the point of punching Xavier. Oliver actually got kind of scared for a while there. And when we confronted Edmund, he said he was fine that he’d resolved whatever issue he’d been dealing with.
I guess he has. Apart from studying till hell freezes over, it’s not like he changed or anything. He probably got a bad grade, dad got mad him, he had some excess frustration, and then he took it out on Xavier.
Either way the event shocked both Oliver and I into realizing what we were actually doing. I actually don’t know about Edmund…he was really okay with the whole stop-bullying thing, but…
Thinking of Edmund…ever since we’d gone back to painting there was a weird awkwardness in the air, as if the conversation wasn’t yet finished.
It almost felt like Xavier was telling me: ‘That’s great, you and Oliver apologized, but what about Edmund?’
Him? He probably wouldn’t bother to come and apologize. He’s been way too nonchalant about the whole thing. Unfortunately it still needs to be said…
“He doesn’t have the time to say it himself, but Edmund is sorry as well.” I said, hoping it was sort of believable.
“Is he now?” Xavier said in a loud yet irritated voice. It sounded like I’d struck a nerve.
Okay no more mentioning the guy who punched his face in.
I glanced at Xavier to see if he was pissed off at me and noticed the teacher behind him.
“Xavier,” The teacher said. “You look like you want to take a break. The girls are running out of paint, how about you go fetch some?”
“Yes ma’am.” Xavier said with a small sigh.
“Good. Here’s the key, the closet is upstairs, don’t take too long.” The teacher said with a deceiving smile.
I got out of the library, my bag now two times as heavy, and headed for my locker. This was my plan: Drop half the books in my locker and spend my spare reading the other half. See, I had the ‘luck’ of finishing my homework before the one hour ended, but unfortunately that does not mean free time. That means extra work.
I groaned inwardly. I just want to go home and collapse on my bed now.
I found my locker and dropped my bag on the ground. It made a loud thunk that echoed through the empty school halls. Jeez, am I the only one who has a spare?
No I’m just the only who spends it studying.
However, it didn’t seem like I was alone this time. I could hear footsteps down the hall coming this way. A teacher?
Nope. Not a teacher.
Xavier was the one to walk down the hall. He reached the closet at the end and unlocked the door without even noticing my presence. Not that I was jumping around asking for attention.
He walked in, the door closing behind him. I noticed he’d left the key in the doorknob…probably thought he wouldn’t be long.
The library doors opened and two students walked out. The girl was giggling hysterically while chatting to the guy.
Okay, so maybe I’m not the only one who has a spare. But then again, some people can actually skip class without a lot of repercussions.
I waited for them to pass before I unlocked my locker. I admit, I’m slightly paranoid when it comes to codes and passwords.
Just when I was about to unlock my locker however, the couple started doing something pretty odd. Even though they were trying to whisper, they were giggling so much I could hear them easily.
“I swear I saw him walk in. Weren’t you watching?”
“He even left the key…”
“The janitor comes and opens the closet after hours right?”
“Sure he does!”
“We shouldn’t though…”
At this point, I couldn’t not look at what they were doing.
“Oops!” The girl giggled. It was pretty clear she wasn’t regretful though.
“You actually did it!”
“Nope, it locked itself! I mean what idiot leaves the key in the doorknob anyways?”
There was some more giggling and then they continued down the hallway.
Wow. I don’t even know what to say to this.
Apart maybe laugh at the fact that Xavier is their victim.
The doorknob jiggled.
I stayed where I was, waiting to see if anything would happen. It took a few seconds before the doorknob jiggled again, this time a little more frantically.
As the doorknob shook even more, I was suddenly struck with the reality that I would have to be the one to unlock the door for him.
Especially since Oliver had been pestering me these days. I’m trying to be friends with Xavier, that means you have to be nice as well!
I do not see how those two actions are related, but that doesn’t change the fact that Oliver is seriously going to hate me if I just simply do not open that door.
I was doing my best to avoid him you know? For um…his benefit. That’s friendly right? After all I did…punch him.
Now I wasn’t too sure about opening that door anymore. Maybe he’d be so pissed at seeing me, that he’d try and land one on me in revenge. I don’t want to get punched in the face…nor do I want to beat him up again.
I’ll just open the door, maybe say hi or you’re welcome, and then go back to my locker like nothing happened. Yep, that’s a plan.
I unlocked and opened the door, expecting full well to see someone who was unhappy that I’d taken so long to open the door.
I actually grew a bit nervous when I opened the door…with good reason.
The door swung open, and seconds later Xavier had rushed out and in a panic grabbed onto the first thing he saw. Which just happened to be me.
Xavier gripped onto my jacket to make sure I didn’t go and he covered his face in my shoulder.
In other situations I would’ve without any hesitation pushed him away, but the guy was trembling from head to toe. It really looked like he needed something to hold him up or else he’d collapse.
He looked scared – no terrified. Like he’d just lived the worst possible situation.
I wasn’t too sure what to do.
Xavier was breathing heavily, still holding tightly onto my jacket and trembling.
He was so close I could smell his shampoo. His frame was so hunched up against mine, I felt like it would be really easy to just wrap my arms around him.
Instead I relaxed my tense surprised posture, and just gave what I hope were a few reassuring taps on his back.
A relieved smile formed itself on my face as I felt Xavier progressively stop trembling and his breathing even.
Then he seemed to regain awareness of his surroundings.
He completely stopped trembling, slowly let go of my jacket, looked up at me and then wore a face that looked like he’d just confirmed his worst suspicions.
Without a second more wasted, he pushed me aside and ran off down the corridor without so much as a thank you.
Ha. He just did to me what I did to him that time when-
I covered my mouth as I remembered a little too well the event. The one that made my face flame up and my heartbeat increase when I thought of it.
I keep trying to forget it! But it’s not working very well…
I groaned inwardly as my dad’s voice rang in my ears. You’re almost eighteen and you haven’t had a girlfriend yet! Luckily I’ve been able to use the excuse of ‘not enough free time’ to get my dad off my back, but…
You know I’ve tried looking at girls, but they don’t do anything for me! I’m trying my best to be like my dad wants me to be, but this is just one part I can’t seem to do anything about!
I mean…when Oliver and Teo are by my side it’s easy. I can be whoever I like. I can bully Xavier, push him around, I can act like a kid with a huge attitude. Actually I can usually be like that with anyone!
But put me somewhere alone with that guy…and suddenly I’m only feeling one version of myself. To summarize it I guess you could say I feel…weak and vulnerable. But not in a bad way. It’s like I can’t defend myself. I barely have any control over my actions.
Ugh. It’s useless to deny it. Xavier does for me what my dad wishes a girl would.
Chapters involving Xavier and Edmund in the same screenshot make me way too happy. XD
Xenia’s creator requested a screenshot of an alternate universe child of Xav and Xenia. To see what we were all missing out on. This is completely randomized.
!! Jamie’s eyes 😀
ALSO, real life’s suddenly gotten busier, which means I can’t guarantee anymore stable regular updates like I’ve been doing recently. My posting habits might get a bit erratic. Just a heads up 🙂